Hi Jess I’m a recovering (never bloody recovered ) alcoholic and addict. I loved what you wrote, you sound just like me a few years ago, I, after years of denial (Don’t Even No I Am Lying) went to AA which was very educational about what I was told was an illness not a weakness and it helped enormously at that time to be around people like me. I’m an atheist and didn’t like all the dogma and needing a higher power that came with the ‘program’ so I tried to ignore what to me was bullshit (but whatever works is good) and listen to other alkies ‘war stories’ and sensible advise and educated myself about my alcoholism and tried to figure out what would help me . I realised it wasn’t the drink that made me the way I was but the way I was that made me drink! Shocker, can’t blame life being shit on booze and drugs, it’s me! Alcoholics tend not to make good life choices, I’m 52 and hadn’t ! Now what do I do? I was on a pink cloud for a couple of months, I was sober, then I noticed I had no emotions, I took a psychopath test, I do happen to be bipolar but with my booze crutch gone I felt nothing. After about 2 very difficult years these emotions suddenly rushed back after much self searching and lots of psychotherapy. I was happyish walking my dog in the sunshine and out of nowhere I couldn’t stop crying, I didn’t know why? I phoned my sponsor who said “that’s good you’re starting to feel something!” I, like you have never been happy unless I was pissed or running as I was addicted to that as well. When my emotions came back I just tried to avoid them until I was in danger of drinking again and had to own up to the fact that I couldn’t even name some emotions never mind recognise them! Next came a bit of self awareness, I didn’t like that, I was aware of these emotion things and now I had to face them, somehow deal with them AND change the way I reacted to them!! That involved a lot of thinking, alkies apparently don’t think like regular people, I discovered this by listening to others who thought like me and you. I needed lots of help, I needed an experienced sponsor who had been where I was and a therapist to help me through the process of being self aware of what I was feeling, having to actually feel what I was feeling and deal with it. I had to share my mad thoughts and how I didn’t like to feel afraid or angry so I would decide just to skip those emotions! Obviously that didn’t work out too well as I would pretend to be very zen like for a while then I would have an ‘emotional hangover’ from avoidance. Regular people think alkies put the bottle down and that’s that, sober and serene (I had to look that word up as it was a word I’d heard but didn’t have a clue how it felt) For me it was a time thing struggling to get emotionally sober, progress never perfection. 10 years on I still touch thinks clearly signed ‘wet paint’ and think about punching old ladies in supermarkets paying in pennies that I don’t have the patience for! I’m still a ‘blurter’ I forget to think before I speak so spend a lot of time apologising. I’m in a place where I know I’m responsible for not only my actions but thoughts because if you’re like me if you think about something long enough it will become an action or l will just act on instinct ( which is usually not a good instinct!) One of the most important things I’ve learnt to think before I speak is ‘does that need saying’ , ‘does it need to be said by me ‘ and does it need to be said now. 99% of the time the answer to the questions are no, no and no, does it stop me saying it? Sometimes, progress, sometimes quickly sometimes slowly but I’m always going to be a ‘work in progress’ some days I just have to take it an hour at a time because I can’t control or manage my emotions and I long for them to go away sometimes. I have 2 daughters and a son with disorders and emotional issues who are glad they have a mum who they can now talk to with a possibility of a good outcome because I’ve had to work a lot and get help with how I feel and how that impacts on others. I’m not a writer, I don’t know if what I’m writing is making sense, it’s just my experience of the never ending process of getting sober and staying that way, it’s hard every day but the most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done…… keep sharing what’s in your head, alkies live there and everything tends to work out in the end, it always does.